I have always been confused, even slightly annoyed about the name of Vineyard Haven/Tisbury, but thanks to the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce’s Sample MV Vineyard Haven, I now know the deal.
It turns out that Tisbury is the town, and Vineyard Haven is a village of Tisbury and, West Chop is one too. I love having that little bit of knowledge. However, that was only one of the many little tidbit I learned from Sample MV, Vineyard Haven, a new walking, talking, tasting tour of this popular Island town.
Sample MV is a new endeavor to showcase the dynamic history of Vineyard Haven, and highlight some delicious food options as well.
A group of us met for the “test run” on a rainy day, deciding that this was actually something fun to do even in less than idyllic weather on the Island.
I am fascinated by the history of Martha’s Vineyard, and when I retire or my kids go to college, I am going to dive in. In the interim, I take what I can get, and I was really delighted by the things I learned on Sample MV.
As you walk around town, the Chamber employee, in our case the lovely Nancy Gardella, the executive director, shared some of the village’s history with us. A story I really enjoyed was the reason behind the name change of Holmes Hole to what is now Vineyard Haven.
In 1875, there was a contest to come up with a better name. Holmes Hole was one of the worst harbors in the area, completely open to the elements (pre stone wall), and the goal was to come up with a more appealing name for travelers.
We were nourishing our minds and of course need to nourish our palates too. Luckily Sample MV provides both.
Our first foodie stop was the Black Dog Tavern. Here we learned about the tavern’s history from a small year round tavern to an iconic island image. It was a lot of fun to learn about, and their chef, David Henry, had made the Black Dog’s delicious signature cod cakes, which you can find on the menu and in its famous cookbook.
Then we walked back up to Main Street, learning more about the town as we went. Next stop was Le Roux Gourmet. There we learned a little about Le Roux and about its amazing balsamic vinegars they sell.
I had no idea there were so many to choose from and that balsamic vinegar could be so yummy and used for so many things. We had the Strawberry balsamic with Basil oil and all I could think about was having it over vanilla ice cream.
Then on to more history. The Vineyard Playhouse building, the Stone Church and the great fire that started there and destroyed most of Main Street.
We explored historic William Street, learning about architecture and the small stone walls found around town (give you a hint, think ballast). Then it was off to Waterside Market to sample more of Vineyard Haven’s culinary treats.
Waterside Market has been on the island for nine years, open year round, and soon to offer dinner seven nights a week (blog to come). There we met with their chef Bill Hart.
He prepared for us – the Tex Mex, a local favorite, and a dish featured on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive Ins and Dives. The Tex Mex features egg over sweet corn cakes, house pico, black bean hummus and avocado — gluten free, healthy and flavorful. A nice nibble for sure!
The exploration continued down Main Street, where we learned more about this wonderful little village, stopping at Bernie’s Home Made Ice Cream. Living in Oak Bluffs, I am almost an exclusive Ben & Bill’s ice cream girl.
However, I have to admit that Bernie’s ice cream is really good. Owner Bob Breth and his wife Jeanette went to ice cream school, a real thing, and learned how to create really good, fresh small batch ice cream.
Bob is extremely proud of their ice cream, and I can see why. I had the Toasted Coconut, inspired from his favorite doughnut, and it was so good. I think I will be coming back to Bernie’s (named after his mother Bernice), and might even try Bobby B’s Pizza and Sea Food which is right next store.
On to more fun history about Vineyard Haven, and peeking at store windows as we walked by. We went to Murdick’s Fudge. There we had, you guessed it, fudge! Yum!
Did you know Murdick’s Fudge has been in business since the 1887, originating in Mackinaw City, Michigan, and it’s been the making fudge the old fashioned way on the Island since 1978.
Here we got samples of fudge, peanut brittle, and caramel pop corn, such delicious treats. We also learned about about the process that goes into making these house-made goodies.
Feeling a little full, happy, and informed, we talked a bit more about all of our experiences and said our goodbyes. We were all impressed and had a great time. If a newspaper writer, a magazine writer, two inn owners, a blogger (me), and some Chamber staff learned a lot, imagine how great it would be for visitors and even islanders!
You too can experience Sample MV, the tours begin May 4th, Wednesday thru Friday, 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. The tour begins at the Chamber of Commerce’s kiosk across from the Steamship Authority terminal in Vineyard Haven, and only costs $25 per person. You can pre-register by clicking here or show up and take your chances. There is a 12 person maximum. Sample MV runs through June with plans to restart in the Fall.
The Chamber has really worked hard to create Sample MV. This new addition to Vineyard Haven is a great way for visitors and islanders alike to learn a little history and enjoy a little taste of the town. Sample MV, if popular, will continue to grow, and hopefully be introduced to other island towns.
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